The History of The Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) Facts, Beginning and The Decline

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Barsbold Baatarsuren Travel tips May 21 min read
The History of The Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) Facts, Beginning and The Decline

Kublai Khan, the leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan, established the Yuan dynasty as China's ruling dynasty. Despite the fact that the Mongols had governed lands comprising today's North China for decades, Kublai Khan did not officially proclaim the dynasty in the traditional Chinese form until 1271. By this time, he had separated himself from the other khanates, and he ruled over most of modern-day China and its environs, including modern-day Mongolia and Korea. It was the first foreign dynasty to control all of China, and it reigned until 1368, when the Genghisid kings returned to Mongolia and established the Northern Yuan dynasty.

The Yuan dynasty is seen as a successor to the Mongol Empire as well as a Chinese imperial dynasty. Following the division of the Mongol Empire, it was the khanate controlled by Möngke Khan's successors. The Mandate of Heaven was given to the Yuan dynasty after the Song dynasty and before the Ming dynasty, according to official Chinese historians. Kublai Khan founded the dynasty, though he listed his grandfather Genghis Khan as the dynasty's official founder as "Taizu" in imperial records. Kublai announced the new dynasty's name as Great Yuan and claimed the succession of prior Chinese dynasties from the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors to the tang dynasty.

The Yuan Dynasty Facts

  • Genghis Khan, an illiterate nomad, established the Yuan kingdom.
  • The Yuan Dynasty, which began in 1279 and was led by Kublai, was the first foreign-led dynasty in ancient China.
  • The Kublai dynasty was the first to employ paper money as the primary currency.
  • During the Mongol period, the traditional Han ethnic group remained at the bottom of the four-class system.
  • During the Yuan Dynasty, the famed Italian adventurer Marco Polo visited China and presented the country to Europeans.

Origins of Yuan Dynasty

Genghis Khan (1206–1227) was a Mongol ruler who reigned from 1206 until 1227.

By defeating the Western Xia and conquering Central Asia, Mongolia, and the Hexi Corridor, Genghis Khan and his sons laid the groundwork for the Yuan Dynasty. This provided them with a sufficient supply of troops, horses, technology, and experience to complete the conquest of the strong Jin army and subsequently conquer the Dali and Song empires.

The Mongol kings were wealthier and given power as a result of trade on the Silk Road trade routes through the Hexi Corridor. As wars developed, their control of this land corridor allowed their armies to easily march east or west.

Ogedei Khan (ruled 1229–1241) 

When Genghis Khan died in 1227, he nominated his son Ogedei to succeed him as emperor. From 1229 until 1241, Ogedei was supposed to have ruled the entire Mongol empire, though he focused his efforts in the east.

He conquered the Jin kingdom in 1232, forming an alliance with the Song empire. In 1234, Jin was defeated.

Ogedei began a battle against the Song Dynasty in 1235.

Kublai Khan (Ruled 1260–1294)

Kublai Khan was Genghis Khan's grandson. He ruled for a long time and restructured the empire to expand his authority and prosper the empire.

He conquered the Dali Kingdom in Yunnan Province in 1253.

Kublai Khan launched a battle against the Southern Song Dynasty in 1259.

After his elder brother, Mongke, died in 1260, Kublai ascended to the throne.

He and another brother went to war after learning that his elder brother, the Great Khan Mongke, had perished. They each aspired to be the Khan.

Kublai triumphed in a series of conflicts. The Mongol Empire was split as a result of this. The Golden Horde, which ruled over Russia and the Chagatai Khanate, refused to acknowledge Kublai Khan as their ruler.

However, Kublai Khan's other brother, who controlled the Ilkhanate in the west, paid Kublai honor but was virtually independent of him. Kublai lost control of these vast Mongol territories in the west.

As a result, in 1260, the eastern section of the empire became a power center. He used the government framework established in the Jin and Song empires to rule his empire, but he replaced the officials with foreigners.

Kublai further separated himself from his Mongol kinsmen when he made Dadu (modern-day Beijing) his capital in 1266, claiming he didn't follow Mongol ways and wasn't loyal to the Mongols.

Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in 1271, coexisting with the Southern Song Dynasty.

The Song Dynasty court retreated to Quanzhou in 1227. A wealthy Muslim merchant attacked them there. In 1279, they retreated to Hong Kong, where the court attempted to make a stand, but were soundly crushed by the Mongols. In 1279, at the age of nine, the last emperor died there.

Kublai Khan began issuing chao (paper banknotes) in 1273. This was a significant advancement in banking and monetary policy. Although paper currency was printed and utilized during the Song Dynasty, the Yuan empire was the world's first dynasty to employ it as the primary circulating medium.

The advantage of paper money was that it was easier to carry and use a big amount of coins.In the 1270s, Kublai launched enormous forces against the Song people. The Mongols seized Hangzhou, the Song capital, and most of the Song Dynasty clan in 1276. Two young brothers of the captive Song monarch, on the other hand, managed to flee to the south.

Beginning of The Yuan Dynasty

Emperor Shizu (ruled 1279–1294)

In the naval battle of Yashan in 1279, the Mongols fully subjugated the Southern Song. Emperor Bing, the final emperor of Song, drowned in the sea with a devoted minister when he was eight years old. The Song Dynasty came to an end.

Kublai was able to gain genuine control over northern and southern China in the end. Emperor Shizu of Yuan was his name.

Islam Became a Minority Religion in the Yuan Political System

Despite their origins as nomads, herders, and hunters, the Mongols successfully ruled the empire for the first few decades. This incredible dynasty revolutionized the region's administration and culture.

Foreigners became the rulers and administrators during Kublai's reign, which was a significant change. They brought in a big number of Muslims and other individuals to assist them run the empire since they didn't trust the locals.

Yuan's Theater and Literature

The Mongols did not emphasize or cultivate traditional Chinese literature, philosophy, or culture at first. They were more pragmatic in their approach. They wanted to have a good time, therefore they enjoyed theatrical productions with lots of action and Mongol-style music, as well as large feasts and celebrations.

For both the emperors and the public, Mongol reign was a time when popular entertainment blossomed in colloquial vernacular.

Major works in the vernacular language were written in the genres of fiction novels and theater.

The Decline of The Yuan Dynasty

Mingzong (1329–1332)

Natural calamities, such as plagues, droughts, and floods, have caused pain and death to peasants since the 1330s. The Little Ice Age began, and famines and natural disasters all around the world sparked political unrest at the same time.

The bubonic plague outbreak, sometimes known as the "Black Death" in Europe, began to spread over the empire in 1331. The plague wreaked havoc on the empire. In Hebei Province alone, millions of people died.

Emperor Huizong reigned from 1333 to 1367.

The Yellow River changed its course in 1344. This resulted in a huge flood, which devastated an important and populous region in the empire's heart. During the last few of decades, the river flooded twice more.

Massive famines also occurred. Between 1340 and 1380, there was a period of drought.

In 1351, an uprising known as the Red Turban Rebellion erupted. The Red Turbans claimed that the Yuan Dynasty's terrible rule was responsible for the natural disasters because they had lost the Mandate of Heaven. The insurrection was put down by the court, but another erupted soon after.

Zhu Yuanzhang, a key leader of the Red Turban Rebellion, conquered all of the other great enemy armies between 1356 and 1367. In 1368, he attacked and conquered the Yuan imperial capital of Dadu (Beijing). The Yuan court retreated to the north.

Mongolia became the Yuan Dynasty clans' final home. Mongolians attempted but failed to reclaim the empire. Mongolians became officials in the Qing Dynasty after forming an alliance with the Manchus.

The Yuan palaces were demolished by Zhu Yuanzhang. He founded the Ming Kingdom, a new Chinese dynasty.

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